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O-Zone: Good times

JACKSONVILLE – Let's get to it …

Matty from Saint Augustine, FL

One thing all the Jags "observers" are missing in this whole ETN getting reps at wide receiver drama … he needs practice in rookie minicamp. And Trevor is limited in play. One being, he CAN'T do handoffs to running back. Or play under center. How else is ETN supposed to get a workout and learn the playbooks? At the wide receiver position to work on fundamentals. Everyone trying to make a drama story headline.

I wrote this on Sunday, and I'll write it again here: This is perhaps the most overblown, misinformed Jaguars "controversy" I can remember. Head Coach Urban Meyer made clear upon selecting running back Travis Etienne No. 25 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft that the Jaguars considered him more than a running back. He also made it equally clear that Etienne would be cross-trained at wide receiver and running back. When did people think the cross-training would begin? October? It made no sense to wait to begin working him at receiver, and it would have made less sense to work him at running back in a rookie camp with one quarterback – particularly when that quarterback, as you note, COULDN'T hand off. Look: Etienne is a talented running back. When it's time for quarterback Trevor Lawrence to give him the ball and let him run from the backfield, there's no reason to believe he won't be able to do that. Wide receiver is a trickier position to learn than running back in the NFL, particularly for a player who is used to playing running back. Working Etienne at receiver in rookie camp made perfect sense. That won't end this drama, but it still made perfect sense.

Holger from Zurich, Switzerland

How likely is Lawrence to break the Jags' single-season TD (35) and pass yards (4,428) record as a rookie (both Blake Bortles 2nd season, 2015)? Justin Herbert had 31 and 4,336 (15 games played).

There's a chance, and Lawrence is certainly capable. But the Jaguars probably don't want Lawrence throwing quite enough to compile those numbers as a rookie. They ideally would like to be a strong enough running game – and to be ahead enough – that they won't have to depend on Lawrence to throw to win. Yet.


Not really a question, just an observation. National media is reporting that Travis is being switched to wide receiver. In a rookie minicamp ... Jaguars fans want national attention and here we go. Be careful what you wish for! I withhold judgement until training camp. John, does me make me less of a fan?

No, it does not. Etienne is going to play wide receiver and running back. Both. Not one. Not the other. Both.

Tom from Loughborough, England

Can I get a shout out for my Leicester Jags fans? Leicester City FA CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!!!! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!!!!!!! Also, what do you think are reasonable expectations from the pass rush this year? #DTWD

Shoutout!!! Improved, but perhaps not where Meyer, defensive coordinator Joe Cullen and the rest of the staff hopes it will be after more time to develop.

Jordan from Mandarin

I know this would be best-case scenario, but I have this feeling Walker Little might end up being a great left-tackle in the league and become the steal of the draft. This would go down as an all-time draft if we got our franchise quarterback and left tackle in the same draft.

Little was once projected as a potential Top 15 selection in the NFL Draft. He indeed has the skills to be a franchise left tackle. And yes … if he's that – and if Lawrence is as advertised – those are a couple of franchise-changers.

_Dave from Jacksonville _

O great and powerful wizard once again you prove your mastery of all. You have foreseen the Jags will definitely not finish 7-9. Since, the new schedule is 17-games long, I am humbled by your wisdom. I do think 8-9 is feasible if we can win a few early. Thanks great and powerful, Oz.

I am the king of all funk.

WJB from Yulee, FL

Who will backup Trevor at quarterback? Is it conceivable that Laviska Shenault Jr. could line up at quarterback occasionally?

I expect C.J. Beathard to backup Lawrence because the Jaguars signed Beathard as an unrestricted free agent in the offseason, and I doubt they would sign a player to cut him or be the third-team quarterback. I supposed wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. could line up at quarterback occasionally. I would think that would be kept to a minimum. The Jaguars selected Lawrence No. 1 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft for a reason. To play quarterback at an elite level and to do it a lot.

Rob from Jax

Just curious as to what the advantage is of having Chris Manhertz at tight end instead of an extra lineman in a similar formation? Is it just the threat of him being able to catch a handful of balls a year? A defense would surely know his strength and wouldn't seem to be too concerned with him in the passing attack. Thanks.

You have him at tight end because he is capable of catching passes. A defense still must be concerned about him. They may not be triple-teaming him with their top corner, but they have to account for him.

Jeff from Orange, CA

Hearing about a team going 9-8 or 10-7 for the upcoming season is weird and I don't like it.

Jeff is not "all in."

Steve from Nashville, TN

I notice we have 11 wide outs on the roster Etienne makes 12. What is the normal amount on the roster come September?

About five, sometimes one more or sometimes less. But while Etienne will play receiver, he also can line up in the backfield. I wouldn't get too locked into positions and numbers at each position with this offense or defense. There are going to be some hybrid players that are difficult to list in "traditional" roles.

Steve from Hilton Head, SC

How soon can the drafted players be signed to contracts?

Any time after the draft.

Juice from Duke City, NM

What's the harm in signing Tim Tebow? Well, a lot of players around the league see it as the Jaguars coach extending a giant favor to a close friend over bringing in someone who is qualified and deserves the opportunity. So, the harm is just the franchise's reputation in the eyes of players around the league. No biggie, I guess.

Some current NFL and former players indeed have chimed in about this and been critical of Meyer for considering signing Tebow. Some current and former players also have gone the other way, saying that if Tebow indeed makes the team then he will have earned it – and that there is nothing wrong with a player getting the opportunity and a spot on a 90-man roster. Look: I understand this is a topic right now. Experience tells me that this will be a "big story" for a few days when he signs and perhaps a few more days if he makes the team. It will be a big story for a few days if he doesn't make the team. The only way it would be a "big story" for the long term would be if he makes the team and is productive. If that happens, there would be little harm done to the reputation of the team.

David from Ada, OK

Winning games. That's how an NFL team builds its fan base without exposure.


Patrick from Charleston, WV

Hey O, I love the podcast, but Jeff seems to belittle you, and I do not like that. See if I can get 10 minutes of happy hour or huddle up time. DUUUVVAAALLL

I appear on multiple podcasts and shows for I do not appear on any with anyone named Jeff. At least not that I can recall.

Antony from Columbia, SC

O, I really only have one question. Is he a natural thrower of the football?

Yes, and it's a beautiful sight.

Aaron from Jax

O, I've been (not-so-) patiently waiting on your takeaways from rookie minicamp to post...what are they?????

Jaguars 2021 rookie camp was open for media viewing for an hour Saturday. There were 15-to-18 players working with a quarterback who threw 30-to-40 times and who couldn't hand off. Lawrence looked good throwing. It was cool to see him out there. Little looked healthy and looked like he had good feet. There was no team work. Meyer said Saturday they had backed off a bit from Friday and that real Jaguars practice would start when the rookies start working with veterans. That will be the time for more takeaways.

Jeremy from Omaha, NE

There sure is a lot of whining over Urban Meyer's every move. Maybe we should let him coach a season or two then see how it pans out?

Where's the fun of that?